1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley leaders have announced 2021 as the Big Red One Year of Honor. This campaign is a yearlong celebration to enhance esprit-de-corps, foster leader development, and increase unit morale and cohesion. The program focuses leader development by providing Soldiers authentic examples of virtue, leadership, and living a life of honor. Division leaders designed the campaign as an investment in Fort Riley’s people to allow them to achieve personal growth by witnessing, exploring, and interacting with military and civilian persons whose exemplary behavior and actions demonstrate a life of honor.
Each monthly event features panel discussions on honorable living and commemorations of the division’s Medal of Honor recipients. Thirty-six U.S. Army Soldiers assigned or attached to the Big Red One earned the nation’s highest award for conspicuous gallantry. Additionally, one U.S. Air Force airman, Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, was posthumously awarded the medal for valorous actions while supporting the division. As part of the campaign, Fort Riley will memorialize a road on the installation for each Big Red One Medal of Honor recipient.
The campaign begins on February 16, 2021 with a daylong event featuring former U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia. A Big Red One Soldier, Bellavia received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004. The day begins with a Victory Park ceremony to place a plaque bearing Bellavia’s name alongside the division’s other Medal of Honor recipients. He will then engage Fort Riley Soldiers during professional development sessions and a non-commissioned officers lunch discussion.
Also on Feb. 16, Fort Riley will rename four installation roads. The road adjacent to the division headquarters will be dedicated in Bellavia’s honor. Three Vietnam War recipients of the Medal of Honor will also be memorialized: 1st Lt. Gary Miller, Spc. Robert D. Law, and Staff Sgt. Matthew Leonard. Details of their gallantry may be found on the First Division Museum website: https://www.fdmuseum.org/about-the-1st-infantry-division/medal-of-honor-recipients/.